Reflections: Lent - Sunday IV (26th March 2017)
We read in the I Samuel (16:1-13), the Lord asks Samuel to go to Bethlehem, the city of David’s family and anoint the one whom he has chosen to succeed Saul. Jesse’s son David, the shepherd chosen “after God’s own heart” is to be anointed as king. We see in the choice of David that God knows whom he chooses and he does not choose by human standard or by outward appearances. “Lord does not judge as man judges; humans look at the appearance but the Lord sees the heart” (16:7). St. James writes of this in his epistle, “you will not discriminate between persons (nor judge) using double standards (2:3-4).
The gospel of St. John (9:1-41) narrates the healing of the man born blind. Here we see Jesus as the light coming into the world, a great light for all human beings, as foretold by Isaiah (60:1) and the one who would “open eyes that do not see, free captives from prison (and) bring out to light those who sit in darkness” (42:7). People who heard of the cure of the blind man are divided on the matter; some are open to the light, others remain blind. They keep their own belief and refuse to believe in the messenger of God. The Pharisees who were deeply prejudiced against Jesus did nothing but judged and were unaware that they condemn themselves to spiritual darkness.
In their blindness of heart, all their interest to discover the truth dies out. In spite of the testimony of the healed man, they refuse to accept Jesus as the one coming from God (V.33), having authority to forgive sins even on Sabbath.
As in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well told by John last Sunday, the significant point here is, the one who begins to see is the believer. “Many more believed because of his own words” (4:41), because of what they saw and heard. While the Pharisees refuse to believe, the man cured of blindness believes in Jesus and becomes his disciple. Having received physical sight, his spiritual vision of the mystery of the Person of Jesus is simply enlarged.
It must be noted, a change has occurred in this blind beggar who used to spend his life holding his hand out for alms. Now he is standing up, challenging the leaders whose minds are blinded and unable to comprehend the manifestation of the Messiah and God’s glory revealed in his work. In the process of healing, he understands Jesus better – first he knows him as “the man” (V.11); then he says “He is a prophet” (V.17) and in full faith he exclaims “Lord, I believe” (V.38).
Rightly then, as we advance to the 4th Sunday in lent, St. Paul cautions us in Eph 5:8-14. “Let no one deceive you”, he says, “behave as children of light”, (V.8) “take no part in works of darkness” (V.11), “awake, arise from the dead and Christ will give you light” (V.14). In this way Christ’s faithful will bring the light to others and become sacrificial and redemptive.
(Readings:1 R Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; 2 R Eph 5:8-14; Gos Jn 9:1-41)